Press Release
On Endangered Species Day, local scientist honored as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion for role in rare plant conservation on California’s Channel Islands


May 20, 2022 

Contact: Ashley McConnell,, 805-320-6225 

Photos for media use: Recovery Champion Flickr album

On Endangered Species Day, local scientist honored as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Recovery Champion for role in rare plant conservation on California’s Channel Islands 

Ventura, Calif. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today announced Dr. Kathryn McEachern, research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, is the recipient of the Service’s prestigious 2021 Recovery Champion award for her leadership in the recovery of threatened and endangered plants on California’s Channel Islands.  

“[Dr. McEachern’s] scientific rigor and emphasis on collaborative partnerships has guided our understanding of island plant communities, contributed to their protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and helped prevent extinction of multiple listed species,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. 

For three decades, McEachern has worked under challenging and inhospitable conditions to monitor, survey, and map rare Channel Island plants. Her research informed the Service’s listing of 13 species under the ESA, which accelerated ongoing conservation and restoration efforts following years of land-use change on the islands, from ranching and grazing to the eventual stewardship of the islands as a national park and conserved area. Following development of the Service’s recovery plan for those 13 rare plant species, McEachern helped implement numerous on-the-ground actions, from survival experiments to comparative mapping, to support their recovery. Due in part to McEachern’s efforts, the Service’s recent Species Status Assessments indicate strides towards recovery for several species, including the island bedstraw and Santa Cruz Island dudleya.  

“We cannot achieve our mission of endangered species recovery without the pivotal scientific research that underpins conservation and management actions for rare species,” said Steve Henry, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura.  “I am honored to present Dr. McEachern this national award on behalf of our agency for her lifelong contributions to Channel Islands plant conservation and for her role in inspiring new generations of women scientists.”  

McEachern also played an instrumental role in conducting cloud forest restoration efforts on Santa Rosa Island, including outplanting and seedbanking to benefit Santa Rosa Island manzanita, Hoffmann’s rock cress, and island oak. Her collaborative efforts have forged long-lasting partnerships with the Service, Channel Islands National Park, The Nature Conservancy, University of California Santa Cruz Island Field Station, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, California State University Channel Islands, and others. Her passion for plant ecology has inspired hundreds of researchers and students within these institutions, and her work serves as a model for community-based conservation throughout California.  

“[McEachern’s] contributions to the restoration of island ecosystems have left a lasting impact for future generations. I applaud Dr. McEachern for all that she has accomplished on behalf of listed plants on the Channel Islands, and I join the rest of the Service in extending my best wishes for your continuing success,” said Director Williams. 

The Service’s Recovery Champion awards are presented annually to partners and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff whose work is advancing the recovery of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals.